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An STS Forum on Fukushima

Dear Colleagues:

In the wake of Fukushima, many STS scholars are engaging in the debate over the lessons of the disaster.  This includes not only those working directly on Fukushima, but those in related areas such as engineering studies, expertise, nuclear policy, technological governance, disaster studies, and East Asian studies/STS, many of whom are interested in looking at Fukushima from a comparative perspective.

Following the 2011 Cleveland 4S/SHOT/HSS co-located meeting, several of us decided to assemble an initial planning group for the purpose of creating a sustained forum for conversations about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the integrally related Northeast Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (Higashi Nihon Dai Shinsai). Our hope is to help create a safe and productive place for dialogue that integrates Japanese and non-Japanese perspectives while also balancing academic studies with opportunities for outreach and policy engagement.

With this message, we are hoping to introduce you to our efforts, and to invite you into this conversation. Among the things we would like to help accomplish are:

  • Organizing an online discussion forum for (sts-based) academic discussions about Fukushima.
  • Organizing a series of multi-day workshops, in Japan and the United States, for more intensive, transnational conversations about the disaster (including studies of the disaster in comparative perspective).
  • Offering to help organize and/or diversify Fukushima-related sessions at 4S, SHOT, HSS, American Anthropological Association, and other venues. (See attached “call for papers” for the 4S meeting; we will follow with similar announcements for other meetings.)

With the online discussion forum, we anticipate creating a place for scholars to exchange self-introductions, post literature/review essays, and maintain discussion threads on topics ranging from expertise, to citizen science, to organizational dynamics and the historical/cultural background of the disaster. We have already developed the idea of the multi-day workshop into an NSF workshop proposal (posted under “Workshops” at this site).

You can view the online discussion forum simply by going to this link. For instructions on posting and receiving posts by email, see the online forum page.

You can also join the group of volutneers who are maintaining this site, and helping to organize the forum in all of its different aspects. If interested, please contact::

Atsushi Akera                                                 Scott Gabriel Knowles
STS Department                                            Department of History and Politics
Rensselear Polytechnic Institute                Drexel University
(akeraa ‘at’ rpi.edu)                                       sgk23@drexel.edu

– On behalf of the “Initial Planning Group” for the STS Forum on Fukushima